Water and sewerage are essential services, and customers have to pay for the services they receive.
If you do not pay your bill or contact the company to discuss any difficulties you may be experiencing, your company will take action against you to recover the debt. This could take a number of forms. Your company could:
- send a reminder notice
- telephone you to request payment
- pass your debt to a debt recovery agent
As a last resort, the company can take you to court to recover the money you owe. However, as a household customer, they cannot disconnect you.
It is important that you contact your water company as soon as you are aware that you may not be able to pay your bill. Coming to an early arrangement with your water company will remove the risk of further legal or court costs being added to your account. We expect your water company to deal with your individual circumstances sensitively. If you are unhappy with your water company’s response, you can ask the Consumer Council for Water to look into the issue on your behalf.
We have set guidelines on dealing with household customers in debt, so that companies deal with you sensitively whilst being able to recover the money that is legally due to them. There will be more information in your water company’s code of practice on debt. You can ask your water company to send you a free copy.
If you would like independent advice you can contact the Consumer Council for Water. For matters not related specifically to water you can also contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.
If your water company hasn’t billed you
All customers have to pay for the water and sewerage services that they receive, and most people are billed at least twice a year. Sometimes water companies find it difficult to find out who is responsible for a bill, and it can be some time before they send out a bill, particularly if you have moved house.
Bad debts in the water sector cost everyone money and companies will make every effort to ensure that bills are paid. This means that even if you have not had a water bill for some time you will still owe the water company money for the services you have received. Companies may charge you up to six years of unpaid water and sewerage charges. However, this will depend on the circumstances of your case. Your company should also offer you a reasonable repayment plan to allow you to spread repayments.
If you are concerned that you are not receiving bills you should contact your water company as soon as possible to avoid receiving an unexpectedly large bill.